From the title to the cover, ‘Written & Directed’ is an obvious homage to Quentin Tarantino. In all its hedonistic glory, the album is packed with rough and ready bangers. Black Honey are the face of modern-day rock ’n’ roll. ‘Written & Directed’ is the soundtrack.
Abrupt and attention grabbing, ‘I Like The Way You Die’ opens the record the way every album should be. Lyrics, “I’ll lock you up and eat the key, the monster in the dark is me”, set the tone for a project packed with unapologetic womanhood. Speaking to front woman Izzy B Phillips about ‘Written & Directed’ she said: “If the album can make you feel invincible and wanna stomp down the street, then that’s my job done. I want people to feel like they’re in a film. Badass, bossing everything”.
The foot-stomping melody of ‘Believer’ echoes Phillip’s vision. The track is a culmination of Black Honey’s signature sound, infectious laid-back rock. Since the release of their self-titled debut album in 2018, Black Honey have played Glastonbury, been the face and sound of Roberto Cavalli’s Milan Fashion Week show, covered NME and been on tour with Queens Of The Stone Age, which is where a lot of ‘Written & Directed’ was created. Phillips named Kurt Cobain and Jack White as her personal musical influences as well as the “super heavy rock scene” in Brighton, where the band formed.
‘I Do It To Myself’ opens with a delicate vocal over a steady guitar rhythm and provides a refreshing break from the rock heavy ruckus. In the song Phillips refers to herself as ‘a walking contradiction’. When explaining the message behind the lyrics she said: “Women are intricate beings that have such complexity to them. I can feel so boxed into these monochrome things, you’re either a sex kitten or you’re a punk. It’s so linear. The song is about owning the things about you that are contradicting. I’m really strong but I’m also vulnerable. I know exactly what I want but I can be very lost.” ‘Written & Directed’ is effortlessly empowering as Phillips embraces honesty throughout.
The album is intended to “make young women feel invincible”. Phillips said: “I never got into music because I thought I was going to be a woman that changes things. Making a record like this, designed for women is a privilege and I hope it can be inspiring”. Black Honey continue to prove themselves as pioneers of a new era of rock ’n’ roll, with Phillips as the face.
If the album can make you feel invincible and wanna stomp down the street, then that’s my job done. I want people to feel like they’re in a film. Badass, bossing everything
‘Fire’ sees the band deliver a middle finger to the patriarchy with lyrics, ‘It’s my body, I make the rules’ and ‘I don’t care what you have to say, we’re raising hell, it’s time for a change’. The proclamations are made over a simple acoustic intro, followed by a bold jubilant brass section. ‘Fire’ is a call to arms and Black Honey couldn’t be any bolder in their delivery.
As the femme-fatale of the album, Phillips charm knows no bounds. ‘Back Of The Bar’, displays the singers vocal diversity on with a track a poppier twist. Lyrics, ‘all I do is dream of you’ and ‘I’m dancing on my own tonight’ provide a romantic nostalgia, following the storyline of any good movie.
Black Honey have always leaned into theatricality and the music videos released thus far for the album are no exception. Another nod to grind house cinema and kitschy pulp films, the band have harnessed their quirks to create a cohesive masterpiece with ‘Written & Directed’. The band will no doubt be busy all summer, pushing their way up festival bills and commanding the stage with this record bathed in retro reminiscence.
Written by: Vanessa Valentine // Photo credit: Laura Allard-Fleischl